JONES, Tring, circa 1777

August 2001

Gillian Husted  of Tyngsborough, Mass, USA, says: I have been unable to locate the Christening for Selina Jones of Tring, born about 1777 and married in the Parish Church there in 1802 to Timothy Wooster of Wendover. I have searched the relevant tapes ordered through my local FHC. There are plenty of Jones' but no Selina. Did I just miss her? Did she have the nerve to be christened elsewhere :-)?

You have been working hard - and it is frustrating when you don't find what you are looking for. I am afraid the news may not be good. The web page on baptisms contains a piece entitled "Where is my ancestor's baptism before 1837?". It is possible that Selina may have been baptised in one of the parish churches just over the county border into Bucks but she may have been baptised in a non-conformist chapel (on either side of the border) whose records have not survived. Alternately she may not have been baptised at all - in which case there may never have been a record of her birth. I don't know the figures, but Tring was an active non-conformist area, and a significant number of children would not have been recorded by the Church of England.

There are other records which can sometimes be used to help. Manorial rolls, where they survive, record changes in copyhold property - particularly when the occupant dies - but the inheritance rules mean that the records would rarely mention unmarried females unless they were the sole heir. Overseers of the poor account books will include the names of rate payers but these would be head of households - usually male but some widows may sneak in. There would also be some records of payments to the poor, but it is quite rare for an entry to be detailed enough to link a child to their father. Militia lists only record men. Once you loose the baptismal records "trail" the average "working class" female vanishes from the records.

One can be lucky - for instance a 200+ year old family bible may turn up in private hands which contains the information you seek. However, on all ancestral lines you eventually get to a point where the cost of further research, coupled with the low probability of success, means that you switch to a more rewarding area of research. In my case I decided to abort trying to find the father of an illegitimate ancestor, and abandoned another line where there were too many people with the right names - but half were non-conformists with no surviving baptism registers to say which was which. I also discarded a line when I got stuck with a "John Smith". About 15 years later a bit of information cropped up in the papers of an elderly relative - and within weeks I had gone back another 200 years. [In fact the original block turned out to be due to an error in my own notes!]

I suggest you swap to another line for a year or two or you will get fed up with finding nothing. But be prepared to come back later if anything turns up. One possibility could be to explore the Wooster family and it might turn up another Jones connection, suggesting that the Wendover marriage was a cousin marriage. You never know your luck.

If you can add to the information given above tell me.